The new Success branch of Cockburn Libraries is now open. Yay! And one of the new things we have decided to try out is having a separate Anime section in our DVD collection.

You might be asking yourself, so what is anime? Well, basically, it is animation from Japan (which includes film and TV releases). It is a diverse medium with an aesthetic that immediately identifies it as ‘Japanese’ (as opposed to traditional western-style animation) and at the same time, within itself, has a multitude of very diverse and distinctive art styles. It has always explored genres, themes, production styles and audience demographics that have long been avoided or ignored by western ‘cartoons’. This also, however, is changing.

Anime has become quite popular in the last decade or so and many of us have at least heard of it even if we don’t watch it. Of course, many people of my generation (no, I’m not telling you how old I am!) grew up watching anime on a Saturday morning without even knowing it; shows like Transformers, Astro Boy, Gatchaman (“Battle of the Planets” to us), Kimba the White Lion (cough! … don’t mention The Lion King … cough!) and many, many others. Thankfully, productions licenced in the west now get quite decent English voice-overs and it has recently become popular to release anime in it’s “original” form (in Japanese, just with English subtitles) – this is actually more to do with keeping the licensing costs down and being able to release titles as soon as possible.

So why make a separate section? Well, as I mentioned, anime is made for every demographic – kids to adults. We have, and will continue to have, many children’s titles like Transformers and Yu-gi-oh! which will remain in the Junior DVD section (and are G and PG rated). The new anime section will cater for older viewers (and contain M, MA15+ and perhaps even R18+ titles).

The collection is in it’s early stages but we are acquiring titles like nobody’s business, so keep an eye out for some top-shelf classics and contemporary titles!

To whet your appetite, here are a few that just came in:

cowboy bebopCowboy Bebop (Remix) “The year 2071 A.D. Driven out of their terrestrial Eden (Earth) humanity chose space as their final frontier. They spread to the stars, taking with them the now confused concepts of freedom, violence, illegality and love, where new rules and a new generation of outlaws came into being. Be immersed in the modern anime classic that defines cool – with Spike, Jet and the rest of the crew of the Bebop; the unusually intelligent dog, Ein, computer wunderkind, Ed and the voluptuous, vexing femme fatale, Faye Valentine. They travel around the galaxy in search of wanted criminals – one bounty at a time!”

The animation may be starting to look it’s age but the characters, stories and awesome blues/funk/jazz soundtrack of this series mean it has consistently ranked in ‘top anime of all time’ lists for the past decade.

durararaDurarara!! “At the invitation of his childhood friend Masaomi, Ryuugamine Mikado transfers from his home in the country to a school in the city of Ikebukuro. Masaomi has warned him about people he doesn’t want to cross in the city: a champion fighter, an informant, a pharmaceutical company who is commissioning the abduction of women off the street, and a mysterious gang called “Dollars.” Nervous in the labyrinth of Ikebukuro, Mikado witnesses an urban legend on his first day in the city Celty: a headless, black-clad motorcyclist who rides the streets with no headlights searching for its stolen head!”

Durarara!! weaves a complex web of non-linear plot-lines and character interactions in an entertainingly post-modern style.

fractaleFractale  “Far into the future, society interacts via the Fractale system; a virtual reality world where everyone has their own doppel (a virtual avatar). When Clain meets a girl, Phryne, a priestess and Nessa, a dopple, he is soon caught up in a battle to bring down the Fractale system, perpetrated by a ragtag team of hacker terrorists called the “Lost Millenium” who believe the world should go back to the pre-Fractale ways.”

This is an engaging adventure tale that is both modern and timeless in its themes and narration.

The last two titles I’d like to introduce deserve special mention – the only English speaking country that has licensed them for DVD release (and released them) is Australia. I know, right! They are underrated gems and while the lack of an English voice-dub may put some viewers off, they are well worth making the effort.

Dennou CoilDennou Coil ” … is set in the fictional Japanese town of Daikoku, the testing ground for an ‘Augmented Reality’ project that involves crafting a cyberspace that overlaps the entire town. By using specific glasses, people are able to interact with this overlapping cyberspace, allowing them to carry on with their normal lives in addition to being permanently connected to the internet through their glasses, essentially concentrating all modern portable media devices (phones, MP3 players, Laptops) into one set of non-intrusive glasses. With the appearance of ‘glitches’ in this augmented reality, a thriving hacker culture soon emerges amongst the children of the city. Dennou Coil could be described as “Ghost In The Shell” meets Hayao Miyazaki; an extremely charming, high quality story about children, for children, in a sci-fi setting designed to display the effects of this new technology that still manages to keep some fantasy elements.”

I couldn’t have put it better.

gosickGosick ” … is set in the fictional European country of Sauville in the 1920s. Kazuya Kujo is a transfer student to St. Marguerite Academy, a place where myths and superstitions are abundant. While there he chances upon Victorique, a mysterious, yet highly intelligent girl who spends her days in the seclusion of the library reading its entire contents or solving mysteries that the local detectives can’t solve.”

A great, and dare I say old-fashioned, detective adventure that brings two young people together in an unlikely but lasting bond of friendship as they struggle for truth and justice in uncertain times.

Don’t know what to watch next? How about a little help from a great resource like The rough guide to anime by Simon Richmond. It won’t have the very latest tiles in it but it is a great guide to some of the best known anime of all time.”

The rough guide to anime

Do you have an opinion on the best anime film or series going around, or a comment about your personal favourite? Perhaps a suggestion for our collection? Don’t be shy, leave a comment.